If you send “congratulations” or “happy birthday” to someone using Messages on an iPhone, they’ll get a little surprise along with it: a shower of confetti or some celebratory balloons will rain down or float around on their screen along with your words. It’s a neat little trick embedded in the messaging platform — but it’s also something you can trigger yourself for any message you send.
To send any text with enhanced animation effects, long press on the blue arrow button when sending a text. This will open up a panel called “Send with effect” which allows you to send your texts with added pizzaz.
There are two different ways to send your texts this way, and you can select how you’d like to do it at the top: Bubble, or Screen. The Bubble effect — which has been around for a while, and which you’ve probably used before — will change how your text message appears on the recipient’s phone once you select from a handful of options:
- Slam: The text of your message will appear to slam into the screen
- Loud: The text will appear to bursts toward the reader
- Gentle: The text will show up small slowly gorw to normal size
- Invisible ink: The message shows up as a cloud of dots, which the recipient has to touch to reveal. (The message will becomes obscured again after you read it — a helpful trick if you don’t want people reading over your shoulder.)
But the other section, which you might not notice if you don’t know it’s there, is Screen, which augments your text message with a full-screen effect. Tap on it to review your options — though unlike the Bubble section, you have to swipe from left to right to select the effect:
- Echo: Duplicates your text message and sends it bouncing around the screen. (This is particularly fun if you use some emojis — although if you use more than four, they’ll show up in a line, rather than as individual characters)
- Spotlight: Darkens the screen and puts a spotlight on your text.
- Balloons: Accompanies any text message with a cloud of balloons.
- Confetti: Sends a shower of confetti with your text.
- Love: Sends a massive heart with your text.
- Lasers: Send a small laser show alongside with your text.
- Fireworks: Fireworks explode as your message is delivered
- Celebration: This one shoots showers of celebratory sparks rom one corner of the screen.
Generally these effects don’t stack — except for Echo, which can replicate and of the Bubble effects in a cloud of messages that cover the entire screen. Select your Bubble effect first, then swiping over to Screen and selecting “Echo.” (As of this writing, layering doesn’t work with any of the other Screen efects, like Love or Celebration).
The effects are a neat way to enhance your texts (and you can tap under each text to replay them). If they don’t show up — or if you don’t want them to show up — you can turn them on or off in under Settings > Accessibility > Auto-Play Message Effects. Apple will also let you do send regular text messages using these effects, though they’ll only actually be visible to other Messages users.